In the current world we live in, we are inching closer to topics like mental health being addressed and taken seriously. The unfortunate part? People who have don’t have experience with mental illness or personality disorders, or that don’t have an educational background or interest in it, will likely not be receptive or able to comprehend the overload of complex information. To assess someone, you have to really dig deep and learn stage-by-stage of a person’s developmental growth, environmental factors, childhood upbringings, trauma(s), genetics, brain chemicals, and more. There is nothing about the brain or about mental health that is “simple”.
Now, imagine yourself in a long-term relationship, partnership, or marriage with a person who responds to your struggles similar to the meme above. Initially, it seems simple; “communicate”. Yes, you are absolutely right! But, a person that has not felt the excruciating pain, panic, racing thoughts, heart palpitations, flashbacks, or the other side effects, likely doesn’t understand the potential severity; they have no way to compare it, and that forms a disconnect between their spouse. More often than not, these miscommunications begin to feel like an attack to your spouse, and the partner with the illness may begin to feel like a burden, leaving both parties feeling discouraged and empty. Empathy and patience go a long way, on both ends. Try to remember that your partner is new to this too, and allow them the same grace you would want to receive, but be mindful to recognize disrespect or boundaries being violated.
One of the more common trends in light of mental health issues making their way to the surface, is the situation where those with limited knowledge of the subject fail to verify information with credible sources. The result is misinformation being widely spread across social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Often, these individuals begin to “diagnose” those around them and will analyze behaviors unnecessarily. There is an increase in people being labeled with severe, and often debilitating disorders that realistically they don’t have, and specifically being done so by romantic interests and family members. That, by definition, is abuse. Those Lashing out, outbursts, sadness, isolation, eye contact or lack of, lying, racing thoughts, etc.—these can be symptoms of in excess of ten (10) different types of illnesses or disorders. From a clinical standpoint, it is not possible to diagnose a mental health condition solely based off of the symptoms provided. This is often why referrals for counseling or neuropsychiatry are placed; to have objective evidence. Physicians and clinicians genuinely need “the bigger picture”. Unfortunately, a partner may begin to take less interest in understanding, their patience shortens, and they begin labeling you as “crazy” or “dramatic”. The best advice I believe in this situation is this; Maybe you are being “crazy” or “dramatic.” You can feel however you want to feel and your feelings are valid. Are we 100/100 every day? No, we are human beings.
For those of you reading that do experience symptoms of, or have been diagnosed with a mental illness or personality disorder, or are living with someone with either— it can’t be stressed enough how important patience and kindness is, both to yourself and to others around you. Even the most emotionally intelligent and logical people struggle with personality disorders and mental illness, and are unable to make sense of their actions. No, you did not ask for this — but no, you don’t get to mistreat people because of it, and people should not mistreat you or take advantage of you because of it either.
I often will close my eyes in a dark, silent room. Mentally, I put myself back into some of the darker parts of my life. I look at what I could have done to prevent a situation, what steps I could have taken to better it, and what things I did to make it worse, so that I don’t find myself there again in the future. The answer is always the same; stop reacting.
Do I remember being in the “frozen” stage of anxiety attacks while arguing with my husband? I do. I remember trying to replay previous fights on the spot to remember what body language (I glare) I exhibited that made him tell me to google that it was a symptom of being a psychopath. Or when he said he was sorry that my life was going to be miserable and sad; that there are no medications that can help me because this is, “just what my life looks like”, when he had decided on borderline personality disorder. When I shared my hurt by those words he carelessly said while walking around the family room eating his pho, he told me he didn’t mean that rudely. I remember replaying those fights to remember which direction to look because he believed he could determine lies and thoughts based off of that, (although that study was disproven). The day it all ended I wanted to hug him, but I yelled instead. I wanted to cry and tell him the feelings and thoughts I had. But, I couldn’t. We had said words in arguments before that were irreparable, and we had betrayed one another long before. Our deepest thoughts were no longer safe with each other, and we knew it. We knew it was over, and had known for some time. I watched him break, and what little was left of me broke with him that day. I had been suffocating to the point I was empty. I learned that he had been studying me and researching what he saw as my symptoms while we were together for him to determine things such as sociopath, covert narcissistic sociopath, psychopath, reactive attachment disorder, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, evil, soulless, demon, and the most gut-wrenching of all — Medusa. For the first time in my life, I knew what it felt like to have my spirit broken. So, maybe we didn’t know each other after all. I know he and I both, separately and collectively, put a lot of bad and good energy out into the world, and maybe it was our time for it to come back our way, and humble us.